Have you even seen a young child seeking to imitate their mother or father? They do their best to follow in their footsteps. It is truly one of the sweetest sights to see. For Christians, such a sight should not only cause us to smile but a child following their parent should give us a picture of who we are as Christians. In 1 John 2:6 we are told we can be sure we know Christ if we walk in the same way in which He walked. In other words, as Christians we follow in the footsteps of Christ. As those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the evidence we have done so is we follow the example of Christ.
How do we model a Christlike life? While there are many facets of following Christ, the Apostle John directs our attention toward the supreme way of walking like Jesus walked: love. John says this command to love is both an old commandment and a new commandment (2:7-8). In one sense, the command to love is old because we see from the first section of the Old Testament we are called to love (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18). Indeed, this love is “from the beginning”. What makes this love new is its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. God’s command to love is seen in a new light. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives love a deeper and fuller sense of what love looks like. Love deals with sin and darkness. The command to love comes from the Word of God and is revealed in the Son of God. We ought to respond to this love by repenting of loving other things more than God and by trusting in Jesus Christ, our loving Savior and Lord. When we respond in this way, we are enabled to love others.
Because we see how God has loved us, we extend love to other people. Unfortunately, there are a good number of people who have no problem saying, “I love God!” The problem they face is with other sinners. A heart-breaking example of this is the comment, “I love God but I cannot stand other Christians!” They neglect commitment to the local church for this reason. What does John have to say about this? He has some piercing words. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (2:9). The marker of love for the Christ begins with the love of God which ignites love for God and extends to love for others. Those who have been changed by God’s love will be those who love Him and the people He has made in His image. A sign you are abiding in Christ is your love for people, even those who are hard to love. To disregard this matter is to disprove yourself as a Christian. To live an unloving lifestyle toward people is to show you are not truly in Christ. As John has already discussed in 1 John 1:5-10, right belief should lead to right living. The one who has right belief without right living is one who is walking in darkness. We are saved by the grace of God alone in Christ alone. We cannot work for our salvation. However, the works we do and the love we display as Christians, are evidence we have been truly saved by God. To affirm head knowledge without heart and hands impact is to deceive oneself. To believe in Christ is to follow Christ. Do not be deceived while living in the darkness. Let God shine the light of love on you so that you can shine the light of love on others. The result will be praise to God for the saving person and work of Jesus Christ.
- How does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ bring greater depth to the command to love?
- What does this passage show about the importance of the local church in the Christian life?
- How can you show your love to others this week as an overflow of your love for God in Christ?